Facade Improvement Program

The Application period is now closed.  Please visit our Facebook page to see some of the Facade Improvements.  Better yet, come on down and visit them in person!!




Community-Driven Transformation of New Kensington’s Fifth Avenue

OVERVIEW: In Fall 2017, Penn State New Kensington (PSNK) is opening an Entrepreneurial Center at 707 Fifth Avenue in downtown New Kensington.

The opening of this Center will bring faculty, students, entrepreneurs and potential investors to downtown New Kensington.  This creates an excellent opportunity to capture the imagination of those traveling into New Kensington to encourage them to stay and invest in the developing downtown, sparking further revitalization and economic vitality within the City.

PURPOSE: Conduct a “facelift” of a five-block area of Fifth Avenue in downtown New Kensington, creating a “Corridor of Innovation” adjacent to – and in alignment with – the soon-to-be-opened PSNK Entrepreneurial Center so that people coming to the Center will be encouraged to invest in further developing the downtown, resulting in a vibrant, innovative and economically sustainable city over the long term.

This “Façade Improvement Program” will be just one aspect of the overall “Corridor of Innovation” efforts, with this aspect of the overall project designed to assist property and business owners with exterior building improvements for the purpose of creating positive visual impact, stimulating private investment, and complementing other community development efforts.  Better aesthetics increase property values, improve the marketability of space within the buildings and serve as an attraction to potential businesses and residents to invest within the City.

TARGET AREA: The target area for improvement includes a 5-block area of 5th Avenue in downtown New Kensington, running from 707 Fifth Avenue (site of the new PSNK Entrepreneurial Center) to 1150 Fifth Avenue (site of the Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC)).

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE PROGRAM: Any property owner or tenant (with written approval from the building owner) of a building with exterior facing facades (walls, windows or other surface) visible to the public when walking or driving along 5th Avenue in downtown New Kensington between the 700 block through the 1100 block.

WHAT IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE PROGRAM: Façade improvements must be for exterior work in an area of the building/storefront that is visible to the public when traveling along the 5-block area of Fifth Avenue that is targeted for improvements.  Types of projects eligible for improvement funds include:

  • Painting, including murals or other artistic expressions that illustrate the history and opportunity of New Kensington
  • Repairs and/or restoration of facades and/or signage
  • New signage
  • Awning removal and/or installation
  • Note: Small amounts may also be requested for the purchase of materials to be used to decorate inside windows of buildings in order to create a colorful and visually pleasing aesthetic to walkers along 5th Ave.

FUNDING: The Program is set up as a single payment reimbursement program to property owners – and to tenants with written approval from building owner – per building/business.  Façade funds will be made available on a 50/50 matching basis with a cap of $1,000 in funding provided per award. Matching funds can include a combination of cash and donated materials and time.

Scope and amount of donated time must be agreed upon prior to commencement of the project and will be valued at $21 per hour unless documentation can be provided indicating a higher value is warranted. Upon completion of the project, all donated materials and time will require signed verification of value. 

Funds available for this program were awarded to PSNK by the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, with PSNK serving as the administrator of this Façade Improvement Program. Neither PSNK nor the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County will have any liability for any work undertaken or contracted for by an applicant or building owner.


  • All improvements must meet the code and permitting requirements of the City of New Kensington.
  • All applications must be received and APPROVED (IN WRITING) PRIOR TO COMMENCEMENT OF WORK.
  • Projects must be completed no later than August 15, 2017.
  • Upon completion, improvements will be inspected by the Façade Improvement Program Review Committee (or by its designee) for determination of compliance as submitted in the application and as approved. Following a successful inspection, a reimbursement check will be issued to the applicant for the approved work and for the approved amount.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE AND INSTRUCTIONS: Applications will be accepted between May 1 2017 and June 30 2017.  All funds will be awarded on a rolling basis until all funds are expended.  (Note: It is advantageous to get your application in early since funds will be awarded on a rolling basis; it is possible no funds will remain late into the deadline period.)

APPLICATION: Applications for the Facade Improvement Program are available online.

The general Façade Improvement Program Application Form can be submitted by any property owner or tenant of a building with exterior facing facades (walls, windows or other surface) visible to the public when walking or driving along 5th Avenue in downtown New Kensington between 7th Street and 12th Street can apply for consideration.

However, any application submitted by a non-property owner must be supplemented with written approval from the building owner.  Completing and submitting this Building Owner Approval Form serves as that written approval from the building owner.

CONTACT: Questions may be sent via email to sarahsnider100@gmail.com or clc36@psu.edu.  While efforts will be made to respond to all questions in a timely manner, a response is not guaranteed.


This program was made possible through a Revitalizing Westmoreland grant, a program of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.